I have a friend who insists on taking her dog everywhere. Let me start by saying that I am a dog person; I have a dog I love, but I leave her home sometimes. She’s a dog.
My friend says that her dog has separation anxiety and must be with her at all times.
Also, she often carries him around in a front pack. I try not to be judgy, but *eye roll,* am I right?! I find this is affecting our friendship. Thoughts?
It’s a dog’s life
Dear Dog’s life,
Up until a few years ago, I would have been rolling my eyes right along with you, and I mean eyes so far into my skull, they may have actually dropped into my sinuses like pinballs, pinged around my head and popped out my nose.
But then a colleague of mine, whose dog was previously perfectly fine, developed separation anxiety. She didn’t have to be with her owner every minute but she couldn’t be alone. And it started ruining my colleague’s life. She had to bring the dog to her parents or to a friend’s house every day, hire people to apartment-sit while she worked, pay them, etc.
So I get this really is a thing. I also have two dogs, one of whom is pretty neurotic and it’s not too big a leap from neurotic dog to separation-anxiety dog. Now, I am assuming that this is a small dog and she is not carrying a St. Bernard or a Greyhound around in a front pack. That would be weird. But, you know, who am I to say?
When the subject comes up, I would double check that your friend has spoken to her vet about the dog and asked the vet if they had ideas about ways to treat the anxiety, whether it be medical or behavioral. There are also lots of trainers out there who will train your dog for you, provided you build them a summer house in St. Moritz. Perhaps that is an option for her.
Otherwise, I’m afraid that you will have to get used to telling your deepest, darkest secrets to your friend and her furry companion. But think of it this way: only one of them has the capacity to spill your secrets, secretly resent you or make passive/aggressive microaggressive comments about your outfit/weight/relationship, and here’s a hint: it ain’t the one in the front pack!
My partner and I live together and during the pandemic, he has become close with my friends. I am moving to a different state next year, and we will be long distance. As most of his friends are my friends and I will be gone, I’m worried he won’t leave the house. How far do I push him to make new friends?
Am I a pusher?
Dear Am I,
I think you answered your own question when you used the word “push.” Pushing someone to do something is never a great strategy. If your partner is not naturally adventurous or outgoing, chances are urging him to try to be those things will only backfire. Have you ever had anyone (your mother, a doctor, an insurance agent) “push” you to lose weight? I rest my case.
I’m sure your partner is aware that you are the more social one in the relationship. You could gently suggest (once, maybe twice) some activities or groups he could explore while you are away but in lieu of pushing him, I would encourage your friends to continue to include him in their activities. The danger here is that if you two were to break up acrimoniously (but let’s hope not), all your friends may feel like they have to choose sides. But I don’t believe that acting in fear of what might happen is good motivation for anything. Go with gusto, mush with moxie, ballyhoo with brio and, as always, advise with alliteration!
I have two little kids and when they make friends, whether it be in the sandbox or at school, I find that there is an unspoken assumption that I should be friends with their new friends’ mother. Sometimes this works out great, other times I think I am in a living hell! What do I do when one of these moms really wants to be friends, and I just wanna say, “talk to the hand!”
Tot lot terror
What you say is totally true. There are years, while raising kids, that you develop temporary twinships with other parents that sometimes are like kismet and other times like catastrophe.
When your kids are young, you usually stick around during playdates which means hanging out with other parents, like it or not. But as they get older, you have more and more freedom to drop kids off, have kids at your house without their parents, and generally pick and choose which parents become your peeps.
If you get invitations that you want to decline, decline politely. The good news is that with little kids there are always good excuses to decline an invitation: sore nipples, scabies, strep, lice, hoof and mouth, venereal disease.
I find that most people understand that the ebb and flow of friendship is never static. I lose touch with people I really adore sometimes. By the same token, wedges can appear between the best of friends. It’s a jungle out there. Be nice to yourself, you have little kids, which means you’re in an all-day aerobics class for the next 10 years or so, and then you’re in mental anguish for the 10 years after that. But hey, 20 years from now, you can relax on the beach worry free. See how much there is to look forward to?
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Monday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.